Gourlan, A. T., Douay, G., Telouk, P. 2019. Copper isotopes as possible neoplasia biomarkers in captive wild felids. Zoo Biology 38(4), 371-383.
The longevity of zoo animals is increasing due to continuous improvement in husbandry and veterinary medicine. However, increasing age is correlated to a higher prevalence of neoplasia. Despite tremendous improvement in diagnoses and monitoring capacities, cancers are still a challenge for veterinarians within the global zoo community. The recent use of copper isotopes as biomarkers for neoplasia in both human and veterinary medicine is a promising and cost-effective diagnostic tool. Two hundred and twenty-nine serum samples from 10 different species of wild felids under human care were processed through mass spectrometry to determine the ratio of heavy and light copper isotopes (65Cu/63Cu). The results of this preliminary study exhibit an important variability between felid species, with a ratio ranging between -1.71 and 0.63. Additionally, copper isotopes seem to be a promising diagnostic tool in monitoring cancer in wild animals, as in human medicine, where the isotopic ratio decreases significantly with time in the presence of a tumor.